Institutional influences on local government support for professionalized maintenance of rural water infrastructure in Uganda: A qualitative analysis

Professionalized maintenance arrangements are emerging and growing to improve rural water service sustainability across sub-Saharan Africa, where local governments often act as rural service authorities. Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment released a novel policy in 2019 to promote professionalization, outlining requirements of local governments to support professionalized maintenance under a new framework for rural water service delivery. This paper, developed under USAID’s Sustainable WASH Systems Learning Partnership, presents a qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with 93 Ugandan local government actors through the lens of Organizational Institutional Theory, identifying how the institutional environment influences local government fulfillment of assigned support functions. Due to infrequent references by interviewees to regulative influences such as formal rules, this paper proposes that the new policy alone is unlikely to motivate essential local government support, but existing normative and cultural-cognitive influences can be leveraged.

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